Saturday, 24 November 2012

St George's Tron, Glasgow

The Church of Scotland Ministries Council is advertising a post the like of which I had never come across before: that of "Transition Minister". The post is obviously outwith the domain of normal parish ministries. It comes with a salary/stipend £53 shy of £39,000. Nothing about a manse mind you, but there is a manse with The Tron.
The bulk of the Tron's congregation, its office bearers and minister have left the Church of Scotland. This leaves a gaping hole in the Church of Scotland's presence in Glasgow City Centre. Since there is effectively no congregation left to search for and call a new minister, a new plan has been made. The Ministries Council is seeking for applications by 7th December. I was curious about the job description. Having taken a look at it I am even more curious.
The information under Context For The Role is as follows:
The Minister, Office Bearers and overwhelming majority of the congregation of St George’s  Tron Parish Church have left the Church of Scotland.  The Presbytery of Glasgow, having indicated that its Plan sees the retention of a Parish of St George’s Tron based on the building in Buchanan Street as a continuing  mission  priority, has taken steps to ensure that the buildings are vacated for use by a continuing Church of Scotland Congregation.  The successful applicant will  take the lead role in developing a new congregation based on the Tron building and engaging fully with the parish.

Evidently The Presbytery of Glasgow has told the leavers to leave. I wrote to the Presbytery suggesting they might like to allow the leavers to remain in the building, at a fair rent, thus achieving two purposes: 1) have a vibrant city centre Christian congregation in place; 2) show a huge measure of grace to those who were abandoning the Church of Scotland because of its/their attitude to gay ministers. I admit that this move would have a negative side: the congregation would have a negative attitude to gay ministers. But many ministers and congregations still within the Church of Scotland have this view too.

The thing which really got me thinking though, were the listed main duties of the successful applicant, which are as follows:

 Through leading contemporary worship and evangelical Bible teaching and discipleship, to motivate, build and inspire a team of committed Christians gathered from, and working in partnership with, supportive congregations in the Presbytery; 
 to develop strategies to engage in effective ministry, mission and service to people for whom the location of the church building in Buchanan Street is key; 
 to form a worshipping, witnessing Christian community into which new members can be welcomed; 
 to develop the financial and people resources available for this work through partnership with others and creative use of the church building. 
Outcomes:  a  vibrant, mission-focused congregation of the Church of Scotland in the 
evangelical tradition, engaging with the people and wider institutions of the parish; a
settled ministry; maximised use of the buildings for a broad range of missional activity.

Forget the dubious nouveau English, "maximised", "missional", and concentrate on the first duty: "Through leading contemporary worship and evangelical teaching and discipleship....".

I thought it was the evangelicals who were leaving. But presumably not all. And presumably not all the evangelicals therefore, are against practising homosexuals and practising gay ministers. Unless of course the new evangelically orientated incumbent simply bides their time until the General Assembly makes its mind up about gay ministers, and if the General Assembly approves them, well, may we possibly read of the need for yet another "Transition Minister"? There is nothing in the job description which mentions attitudes to gay ministers (or gay people in general) as that would be against the law, of course. So, I will be watching, along with many others I'm sure, this space with a very great deal of interest.


Stephen said...

The whole thing is weird. The Transitional Minister is to gather an evangelical congregation from other supportive churches. This is essential because there is no parish population to speak of. That which there is is transient and unreliable. I can't see this happening any time soon at the best of times. The Tron's congregation has taken decades to build up. But worse than that, I cannot see any true evangelical committing to such a project now until the report of the theological study committee at the next General Assembly.

But then I am only an interested onlooker - what do I know!

Frank Ribbons said...

Well, I had thought that too. But there are a fair few evangelicals within the church who don't have the kind of backing/resources to keep the stipend level up, or for some other reason feel it's not right to quit....(yet?) There may well be some who don't see quitting as an option who might be attracted to this post. But if the C of S doesn't want an anti gay candidate, they might find filling it a tad difficult.

Drastic Plastic said...

A fascinating blog post ... well done in spotting this ad, and the many implications that it has. Of course it isn't "the presbytery" doing this - that's an abstraction - but some specific persons, who ought to be named.